The Price of Popularity
Remember Cloverfield, the movie filmed from a first-person perspective about a giant monster that destroyed New York City? Remember how it opened with a party? Now, imagine it wasn’t the monster that destroyed the city, but the party itself, and you will have some idea of what you’ve got in Project X.
It’s a familiar story: a couple of high school losers decide to through a big party in hopes that it will earn them popularity and some, well, let’s call it female companionship. They put the word out the best they know how, sending text messages, posting flyers, and even advertising on Craigslist. They pick up some alcohol, bring in a D.J., and hire a couple of security guards to keep everyone in the backyard and out of the house. The party starts slow and they wonder if anybody is even going to show up. Then the flood gates open.
People start flowing in with their plus ones (or twos, or threes) and before you know it, the boys have themselves a pretty good party going. As the partygoers continue to roll in, however, it becomes much more difficult to control the party. Soon the house is overrun, the neighbors come complaining, and the cops are showing up in riot gear. They set out to have the most epic party ever, and as it turns out, that is exactly what they get.
Project X is pretty much hilarious from start to finish. It’s great to watch this party rapidly grow out of control. It escalates from a couple of people playing video games. Then there is a dance party in the back yard. Before you know it, girls are taking their tops off to go swimming in the pool. Wait, is that a zip line? Look, there’s a yard gnome full of ecstasy. Holy cow, a flame thrower?! Whatever director Nima Nourizadeh, producer Todd Phillips, and screenwriters Matt Drake and Michael Bacall could possibly imagine shows up at this party. As they’d have to, the cops show up eventually. As difficult as it may be to believe that the cops would fall for the “everyone hide in the backyard and be quiet” trick, we go with it because we want this party to continue.
Director Nourizadeh uses the first-person camera technique to good effect, creating some genuinely unexpected and sudden laugh-out-loud moments. The camera also allows the audience to get right in the middle of the party, which makes us feel as if we are actually there, yet far enough away that we won’t have to deal with any of the inevitable consequences.
He also gets some great reaction shots from his largely unknown cast. The fact that the cast is a bunch of unknowns also works to the movie’s benefit, not only in creating the feeling that this might actually be legitimate footage, but also because it lets the audience just go along for the ride, rather than get focused too much on a particular actor. Among the characters, an overzealous young security guard stood out as my favorite.
Although there are some character-driven subplots, make no mistake: the joy of this movie is watching these kids’ best-laid party plans just go up in flames—literally, by the end. The joy comes in the moment when a giant ball of fire suddenly shoots up outside the window while the main character, Thomas, tries to tell his father on the phone that he just has a few friends over hanging out; it comes in watching the family dog enjoy some time in the bouncy castle; and it comes in the joy of seeing these guys go from nobodies to somebodies overnight. The owner of the house can’t hide how proud he is of his boy, even as he watches his very expensive car being craned out of the swimming pool the next morning.
The bottom line is that this movie is just a lot of fun to experience. It’s the ultimate party that you always wanted to be a part of, and now you can, without the fear of getting torched by flamethrower.
Project X is rated R for “crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, drugs, drinking, pervasive language, reckless behavior and mayhem - all involving teens.” I mean, what else could I say?
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Project X.